What Is Mental Strength?
Mental strength requires balancing rational thinking and emotions to work together to make decisions to guide your behavior. To be mentally strong is to become aware of your thoughts and emotions and work with them to consciously choose your actions, which is what mindfulness is all about. It’s about responding rather than reacting. It’s about not saying, “I can’t help the way I feel” or “This is just the way I am.”
What Mental Strength Is Not
The stereotype of the mentally strong person depicted as an unemotional, cold, bossy, aggressive, person who never asks for help is just plain wrong. According to Amy Morin in her book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success, here’s what mental strength is not:
Being mentally strong isn’t about acting tough. – It’s about acting according to your values.
Mental strength doesn’t require that you ignore your emotions. – It’s about understanding your emotions and how they influence your thoughts and behaviours.
Mental strength isn’t about ignoring pain, physical or emotional. – It’ about determining the source of the pain and knowing when to behave to the contrary and when to listen.
Mental strength doesn’t require being self-reliant. – It’s about knowing and admitting that you don’t have all the answers or skills, seeking help from others or a higher power, and accepting it with a willingness to grow.
Being mentally strong is not about positive thinking. – Thinking overly positive can be just as bad as being negative. It’s about thinking realistically and rationally.
Developing mental strength isn’t about chasing happiness. – While learning to flex your mental muscle can help you achieve more satisfaction and success in life, it isn’t about waking up every morning and forcing yourself to feel happy. It’s about reaching your full potential.
Mental strength isn’t just another word for mental health. – Just like you can still be strong and healthy with a physical condition, like diabetes, you can still be mentally strong even if you have depression, anxiety, or some other issue. It may require more work, but the two are not mutually exclusive.